The spread of fake news in several social media sites have been rampant. Its effect on each person differs from a simple shrug to a gossiping spree in the whole neighbourhood; and to some extent the whole nation.
In an era where information is abundant and easily accessible, it has become a perfect nest of fake news. Spotting such falsehood can be easy but some become convincingly true.
It is fake news but its effect on society is real. What could happen if fake news is not controlled?
- It sparks confusion. Unlike actual news which disseminates information and upholds truth, fake news has the tendency to cause confusion. In a simpler tone it could only be trivial, but if it is left uncontrolled it could cause mass panic.
Fake news can alter your confidence in facts. Reading something convincing but essentially untrue can make you believe that brown cows actually produce chocolate milk.
In a larger scale, fake news can claim a serious threat. It could lead the majority of the population to believe it. It could then be difficult for a government to contain such panic if that happens.
News like this recently spread locally in one country through a famous social media site, with a note to only pass this message privately, making the control over this false news more difficult than it already is. But thankfully, a number of civilians were wise enough to check the message’s credibility and were able to counter this fake news with actual facts.
2. It develops wrongful or scientifically wrong beliefs. Convincingly true fake news can make you believe exactly what it says to the point that you accept that it is the truth.
It can be as harmless as putting away plants you thought were cancerous because you once read it in a site you thought was reliable.
It could be as health threatening as mixing toxic items into your diet because an article said it’ll make you lose weight faster or as doing simple body alterations because you thought it would make you look better.
Like the trend in 2015 called the #KylieJennerChallenge, where teens would suck on shot glasses or bottles to make their lips big. It sounds harmless but there were times that some teens get it wrong giving their lips bruising and broken blood vessels which take a long time to heal.
3. It incites injury and could incite crime. Some people will go to the ends of the world to prove their strong belief on something they read on fake news and potentially harm himself or other people. Countless conspiracy theories and fake news become out of hand when things get violent and dangerous.
This is the case when a man was inspired to fire shots with his rifle at a restaurant.
The man who authorities said was inspired by false internet rumours fired an assault weapon inside a Washington pizzeria to investigate about a conspiracy theory about Democrats harbouring child sex slaves. Fortunately, no one was injured in this incident.
Another story is of Dylann Roof. He openly fired his Glock .45 handgun 77 times at worshipers in Emanuel Methodist Episcopal Church, killing 9 people in his rampage.
He’d never met any of his victims. None of them had ever wronged Roof. Fake news, propaganda-laden content during the latest US campaign season may have strongly influenced Roof’s actions that day.
4. It destroys a person and relationships. Fake news can encourage cyber bullying. It could also steal anyone’s identity.
It can make someone look bad without showing the rest of the story. Before you know it, the whole internet is already against this person. With little to no evidence, people are quick to bring “justice” into their own hands by giving an alleged person down.
A woman was harassed when fake news spread about her saying her family had connections to terrorists.
One case of stolen identity is model and photographer Laura Hunter who was portrayed as a Trump supporter. Her image was twisted of one to push stories with anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and very pro-Trump views. She sued fake news purveyors for stealing her identity.
5. It can ruin businesses and reputations. As much as gossiping goes, the effect of falsehood to businesses and reputations are the same. Fake news has the knack to make things look bad, dangerous, or unreliable.
It is the same case as the story in number three, where a man barges in and fires his assault weapon in an innocent pizzeria thinking Democrats were exploiting child sex. He read false internet rumours about this child sex ring and decided to take matters into his own hands.
Most people never notice the serious threat to society fake news gives until there are injuries, hospitalizations and casualties. Be one of the ones who control the spread of fake news.